Running a growing business is thrilling. Serving customers is incredible, and growing revenue feels great. But there is only so much excitement in running your average — say b2b — startup.
But suppose your company is doing something so radical it changes culture. In that case, you have to be ready to be surprised, delighted, horrified, and viscously attacked.
In prior eras, a b2b startup founder might've been a skilled trader. Whereas a successful culture-changing founder would've started a revolution or a religion.
When you're challenging norms, you have to be ready to fight the gatekeepers, the useful idiots, and the final boss — the priesthood — those who maintain the status quo.
It's essential to cultivate your community. Provide protected spaces to assemble because existing spaces are hostile to change. Build tools for collective action and encourage solidarity. Build allies wherever you can find them — the outsiders, the weirdos, and the radical thinkers are your best friends.
As a leader, build up stress tolerance. Find habits that clear the mind. Learn how to function with little sleep but take sleep seriously.
In quiet times don't let your guard down. Use those times to train for the next battle. But also celebrate good times and reflect on your victories and losses.
Understand the political milieu. Try not to swim upstream unless it's essential for your mission. Better to ride or entirely circumvent it.
Tell your story. Don't rely on the media machine to tell it for you because, ultimately, they're part of the gatekeeping class. Many are owned by the priesthood.
When building your crew, prefer zealots. It's too risky to have skeptics in your midst. But prize truth, and allow criticism. Build an organization that is both rooted in and unsatisfied with reality.
Enjoy yourself. And remember that quitting is never an option. When it's darkest and most intense, you're closest to victory.